This migratory route from continental
Europe to the United Kingdom has become increasingly active just before the
withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 31 January 2020 and
exponentially increased in 2021 after the Brexit transition period.
In 2021, over 52 000 illegal
border-crossings (IBC) using small boats were detected on both sides of the
Channel, an increase of 241% compared to the previous year. Roughly 22 000
sea crossing attempts were detected by France and Belgium, while over 30 000
successful crossings were detected by UK border authorities.
In response to the increased migratory
pressure, Frontex deployed a plane to the Channel in December 2021 to support
Member States with aerial surveillance.
In 2020, over 15 000 illegal border crossings
were recorded in the Channel using small boats (45% attempted to depart while
55% succeed in reaching the UK).
While previously the most common method was
hiding in the backs of lorries, migrants’ attempts to cross the Channel using
small boats continued to rise in 2020. Simultaneous departures took place at
high speed to increase the likelihood of avoiding interception.
In 2019, the most common method for
migrants on this route remained hiding in the backs of lorries bound for the
United Kingdom. However, as a result of reinforced security measures and more
stringent border checks, the trend of trying to cross the Channel using small
boats instead of hiding in lorries began to increase.